Monday, August 23, 2010

Pragurkreece: In Which We See Sights In Istanbul That Are Not A Market

Leah and I had bought long dresses from the first dress shop we saw on our first day, because Istanbul makes you feel uncomfortable if your knees are showing. But mine needed hemming and hers had a rip so the proprietor said to bring them back the next day and he'd fix them, but when we brought them back the next day he said he'd take them home that night and fix them and that we could pick them up the next day. So it was the morning of our third day in Istanbul before we finally acquired what we consistantly and inappropriately referred to as our burqas.

(Unrelated PS: Turkey is full of feral cats and they are sleek and clean-looking and I wanted to snuggle them.)  We also had scarves that we flung about our heads and shoulders for entrance into various mosques and mausoleums.

And guys?  The mosques are worth the price of a long dress.  I think they appeal to the princess in me because they're all spires and shit.

The Hagia Sophia is my man-made visual highlight of the trip.  Imperial Door!

Enormous windows! know, whatever these things are!

The hole where you put your thumb in and then twist it and then wish something!

(We wished on all the things you can wish on, everywhere.  Mostly we wished for a million dollars, a cold beer, and for it to stop being so damned hot.  Wishing is generally 1 for 3.)

These places are so old, you guys.  The Hagia is from the BYZANTINE EMPIRE!  I don't know how old things are where you're from, but in Vancouver we do not build enormous elaborate buildings COMPLETELY OUT OF STONE so that they last through various dynastic take-overs.

On to more mosques.  The Blue Mosque is aptly named. 

Stunning, no?  And kind of blueish?  It is less impressive on the inside, but only because the Hagia BLOWS the MIND.  It is still totally worth the price of admission, though.  Topkapi Palace, on the other hand, is entirely not worth said price of admission (or we did it wrong?  We had no map and kept feeling like we were missing out on something exciting).  It was mostly long lines and the hot press of bodies and jewel-encrusted daggers, which all start to look pretty samey after a while.

So. Many. People.  It was almost worth it for the photo police, who kept a sharp eye out for anyone trying to snap a pic of the sultan's formal caftan, and then politely but vigorously shuffling them from the room.

Definitely worth it, and Really Unexpectedly Awesome, was the Basilica Cistern.  We'd passed a sign for it one day and half-heartedly tried to find it, but finding things in 40-degree weather is an exercise in quitting trying to find that thing.  The evening of our third night we sort of had nothing to do, so we set out to find it again with really no idea what we were looking for or what a cistern is.  Behold, y'all.

It is where they store water in case of seige, AND it is visually stunning.  AND, because it was evening, we pretty much had the thing to ourselves.  So we romped in it.  Nothing says a broken tailbone like romping on damp marble in flip-flops, guys.  I consider that bullet narrowly dodged.

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